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Trump undoes parts of Obama agenda with executive actions

25 January 2017, 11:16

Washington - President Donald Trump signed three executive memorandums on Monday, kicking off his first full week in the White House by undoing parts of his predecessor's agenda and renewing a longtime Republican priority on abortion funding.

Trump signed a memorandum that freezes hiring for some federal government workers, a notice to abandon the proposed Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and another executive action to reinstate a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.

Here is a look at his three executive actions:

TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

As a candidate, Trump often said he could negotiate better trade deals than past administrations, repeating night after night that he would undo the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Barack Obama championed.

The memorandum signed on Monday was a first step toward making good on that pledge.

Since the Pacific trade deal had yet to receive the required Senate ratification, there is scant immediate impact to trade, exports or wages. The deal has been stalled amid bipartisan opposition in the Senate. It was widely viewed as dead even before Trump's move on Monday.

In its place, the White House has said the president plans to focus on seeking individual deals with the 11 other nations in TPP - a group that represents roughly 13.5% of the global economy, according to the World Bank.

"We're going to have trade, but we're going to have one on one. If someone misbehaves, we'll send them a letter of termination, 30 days, and they'll either straighten it out or we're gone," Trump said.

The major benefit to Americans from TPP had been the prospect of lower prices. An analysis by the Peterson Institute for International Economics also estimated it would lead to a $131 billion increase in inflation-adjusted incomes by 2030.

But Trump has blamed past trade deals such as NAFTA and China's entrance into the World Trade Organization for a decline in US factory jobs. He said in his inaugural address that his administration would follow two rules: "Buy American and hire American."

FEDERAL WORKERS FREEZE

A frequent critic of the size of the federal government, Trump also signed a memorandum that freezes hiring for some federal government workers as a way to reduce payrolls and rein in the size of the workforce.

The freeze does not apply to the military, Trump said. The memorandum signed by Trump's is similar to one that President George W. Bush signed at the start of his administration in 2001.

The decision was cheered by conservatives, but denounced by the head of one of the unions that represents federal workers.

"This accomplishes nothing for the American taxpayer," said Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. "It only makes it difficult for federal agencies to do the business of the American people."

MEXICO CITY POLICY

Lastly, Trump reinstituted a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about abortions.

The regulation, known as the "Mexico City Policy" or, by critics, the "global gag rule," has been a political volleyball, instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984. Most recently, President Barack Obama ended the ban in 2009.

Trump signed it one day after the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalised abortion in the United States, the date on which presidents traditionally take action on the policy. It also prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.

The move was predictably polarising.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement that "Americans are humanitarians and the Mexico City Policy reflects our heartfelt compassion for both moms and babies."

The abortion rights group NARAL condemned the decision as "repressing women."

"With this action, Donald Trump has turned his anti-women rhetoric into policy, and made it more difficult for women and families all over the world to access vital reproductive care," said NARAL president Ilyse Hogue. "He really is living up to the lowest of expectations."

- AP

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